Kids' Bedtime Snacks – Do or Don’t?

sleep Rarely do I complete a workshop without a parent asking me about kids' bedtime snacks – are they a ‘do’ or a ‘don’t’?

In short – either option can work. But, you must make a choice. And, there are common pitfalls that you want to avoid. Otherwise, kids' bedtime snacks can actually contribute to them not eating well at dinner. And, contribute to kids not meeting their nutrition needs.

Often I see families only offering their kids bedtime snacks when their picky eater doesn’t eat well at dinner. This is the ‘don’t’. It’s a ‘don’t’ because it tends to backfire. Kids quickly figure out that if they don’t eat at dinner (where they usually are presented with more challenging foods), they can get a bedtime snack only a short while later that includes favourite foods.

Unfortunately, you’re reinforcing the behavior that you don’t want. You’re inadvertently rewarding kids for not eating their dinner.

Instead, make a new family rule – choose either:

  1. There is always a kids bedtime snack
  2. There is never a kids bedtime snack

If you choose to never have bedtime snacks, kids will quickly learn that if they choose to not eat at dinner, they’ll need to wait until breakfast the next day to eat again.

If you choose that there is always a bedtime snack, make sure that there is at least 1 hour between dinner and bedtime snack. And, at bedtime snack offer foods from 2 – 4 food groups. Sometimes choose to offer favourite foods. And, sometimes choose to offer a challenging food.

Oh, and brush teeth after bedtime snack.

Check out my book for more s tips for picky eater toddlers and preschoolers.